Dodging magic bullets: The evolution of bacterial antibiotic resistance


Abstract


Antibiotic-resistant bacteria currently represent one of the main public health problems and recent predictions indicate that they will soon become the world’s leading cause of death. The ill-fated journey from the introduction of antibiotics into clinical practice to the current threat of a post-antibiotic era has run its course in just a few decades. Thus, the evolution of antibiotic resistance is probably the most spectacular example of evolution of a biological system innovation that we have had the opportunity to observe in real time. This text discusses some of the evolutionary and molecular keys that have allowed bacteria to go down this path.


Keywords


evolutionary innovation; antibiotic resistance; bacteria; plasmids; horizontal gene transfer

References


  • Buckling, A., Craig Maclean, R., Brockhurst, M. A., & Colegrave, N. (2009). The Beagle in a bottle. Nature, 457, 824–829. doi: 10.1038/nature07892

  • CDC. (2013). Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013

  • ECDC. (2013). Annual epidemiological report 2012. Reporting on 2010 surveillance data and 2011 epidemic intelligence data. Stockholm: ECDC. Retrieved from https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/annual-epidemiological-report-2012-2010-data

  • Fleming, A. (1945, 11 December). Penicillin. Nobel Lecture. NobelPrize.org. Retrieved from https://www.nobelprize.org/uploads/2018/06/fleming-lecture.pdf

  • Jonas, O., Parry, I., Chisholm, D., Banatvala, N., & Ladminarayan, R. (2014). Global health threats of the 21st century. Finance and Development, 51(4), 16–20. Retrieved from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2014/12/jonas.htm

  • Mayr, E. (1963). Animal species and evolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • O’Neill, J. (2016). Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: Final report and recommendations. London: Review on Antimicrobal Resistance. 

  • Rodríguez-Beltrán, J., Hernández-Beltrán, J. C. R., DelaFuente, J., Escudero, J. A., Fuentes-Hernández, A., MacLean, R. C., … San Millán, A. (2018.) Multicopy plasmids allow bacteria to escape from fitness trade-offs during evolutionary innovation. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2, 873–881. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0529-z

  • San Millán, A. (2018). Evolution of plasmid-mediated antibiotic resistance in the clinical context. Trends in Microbiology, 26(12), 978–985. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2018.06.007

  • San Millán, A., Escudero, J. A., Gifford, D. R., Mazel, D., & MacLean, R. C. (2016). Multicopy plasmids potentiate the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1, 0010. doi: 10.1038/s41559-016-0010

  • Tan, S. Y., Grimes, S. (2010). Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915): Man with the magic bullet. Singapore Medical Journal, 51(11), 842–843.

  • Wagner, A. (2015). Arrival of the fittest: How nature innovates. New York: Current.

  • WHO. (2016). United Nations high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/antimicrobial-resistance/events/UNGA-meeting-amr-sept2016/en/

  • WHO. (2018). Antibiotic Resistance. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance







Creative Commons License
Texts in the journal are –unless otherwise indicated– published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________